What is hypnosis? Hypnosis is a state of mind characterized by relaxed brain waves and hyper-suggestibility. Hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions have played a major role in healing for thousands of years. According to the World Health Organization, 90% of the general population can be hypnotized. Hypnosis is a perfectly normal state that just about everyone has experienced. What we call "highway hypnosis" is a natural hypnotic state. You drive somewhere and don't even remember seeing the usual landmarks. You are on automatic pilot. The natural hypnotic state also exists when you become so involved in a book, TV show or some other activity that everything else is blocked out. Someone can talk to you and you don't even see or hear them. Because you were concentrating, you just slipped into the natural hypnotic state.
The hypnotic state, by itself, is only useful for the relaxation it produces. The real importance of hypnosis is that while you are in that state, you are very receptive to suggestions. Positive and healing suggestions are able to sink deeply into your mind much more quickly than when you are in a normal, awake state. I say positive because while in the hypnotic state, you cannot be made to do anything against your moral values.
All of our habitual and controlling thoughts reside in what is called our subconscious mind. It's called that because it is below our conscious mind. It's below our level of consciousness. We are unaware of the thoughts and feelings that reside there. Your subconscious mind is where the thought or memory that you have to go to the dentist at 2 PM went when you forgot you had the appointment.
Imagine that there is a trap door between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. Normally, the trap door is closed until your brain waves slow down to a relaxed, alpha brain wave level. When you are asleep, the door opens for short periods of time and ideas and thoughts come out of your subconscious mind in the form of dreams. When you are in a state of hypnosis, the door also opens so helpful suggestions can be directed into your subconscious mind or forgotten memories can be retrieved.
The hypnotic induction that hypnotists use is simply a way to focus your attention and concentration so you will go into that natural, normal hypnotic state. Once in the hypnotic state, the trap door opens and suggestions to help can be given.The list of ways hypnosis has been used to help children, adolescents and adults is practically endless but does include: losing weight,stopping smoking, building self-confidence, improving academic performance at every age level, improving test taking ability from children through high school, college,medical and law school and the National Teacher Certification Exam, pain management, fears and phobias, stress management, sleep problems and helping to heal physical problems.
To really work well, suggestions must be reinforced by repetition. Most of the habits and feelings we want to change are deeply planted in our subconscious mind and will not just "go away" with one set of suggestions. Most of the time, the hypnotic suggestions need to be repeated on a regular basis until you notice a change. There is no way to predict how long it will take to see change. It will depend, partly, on your motivation and commitment. For example, I've worked with people to help them quit smoking or to lose weight. Those who came because their doctor or spouse sent them did poorly because they didn't have the right motivation. Those who came because they wanted to quit or to lose weight responded very well.